Asked about the prospects of the world with a President of the United States Barack Obama, Russin Preident Vladimir Putin said, “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations.”
Other world leaders were more upbeat…
Obama-fever swept the globe Tuesday (20 Jan) carrying widespread public hopes that the incoming US president would lead the world into a new crisis-free era.
In the hours before Barack Obama took the oath of office in Washington, foreign governments and new polls all showed huge support for the Democratic president even though many analysts have warned that expectations for his rule are unrealistic.
Pictures of Obama dominated front pages and television news programmes around the world. Spain’s El Pais newspaper published a photo of Obama and his wife Michelle above the headline: “The American Dream Comes to Power”
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero said an “Obama effect” could shorten the global recession.
“In my opinion, the economic crisis could be shorter than expected if the new administration of Barack Obama generates confidence,” said Zapatero.
“We could see a rebound faster than expected, it is a question of confidence because the fundamentals of the global economy are good enough,” added the socialist premier.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was looking forward to working closely with Obama, a spokesman for the German leader said.
Obama will make two visits to Europe in April for an international summit on the economic crisis and a NATO alliance meeting.
“In general, we are looking forward to co-operating with the new US president and are expecting to tackle the many questions which concern us both,” spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference.
Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown has already said the Middle East should be Obama’s top foreign priority and other leaders have also pressed the case for issues ranging from climate change to helping the world’s poor.
Hopes that Obama can improve US ties with the rest of the world have grown in the run-up to his inauguration, according to a poll of people in 17 countries for the BBC World Service radio.
An average of 67% of people believe Obama will strengthen America’s relations abroad, with more than 50% thinking so in all but two — Japan and Russia — of the countries polled.
The global financial crisis should be Obama’s top priority, followed by pulling US troops out of Iraq, tackling climate change, and brokering peace in the Middle East, the survey said.
Ghanaians are most positive, on 87%, followed by Italy (79%), Germany and Spain (78% each), and France (76%), followed by Mexico and Nigeria (74% each).
Polls in Canada suggest more than 80% of people there approve of the new US president. Obama could visit Canada in Feb and its Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the trip as “a wonderful gesture and a great sign of re-establishing the strong Canadian-American relations.”
But Harper was also among leaders to douse hopes that Obama could fix all problems ranging from wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan to the economic crisis and global warming.
“None of us are under any illusions about the great challenges that face President Obama,” commented Harper, who said Obama should concentrate on the economy.
Other warnings have already come from Germany where Merkel said last week that there would be “very serious discussions” if the United States gave what Europe considers unfair help to its ailing auto industry.
Russia has expressed hope that Obama will make concessions on US plans to build a missile shield in central Europe and on NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, which Russia considers its sphere of influence.
But Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed scepticism while on a trip to Berlin on Saturday (17 Jan). “I am deeply convinced that the biggest disappointments are born out of big expectations,” he said of Obama’s inauguration.
“Familiarity with Obama seems to be breeding hope,” said Steven Kull of the University of Maryland in the United States, which compiled the BBC survey with polling firm GlobeScan.
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